Answers to Your EMV Questions

The switch to EMV is a good thing. Here's why.

close up of an EMV chip

Those magnetic stripes on the back of your card are being phased out, and for good reason.

You hear reports all the time of yet another retailer being hacked and card data stolen. The U.S. is home to almost half of the world's credit card fraud and those magnetic strips are part of the reason why. To fight all of this fraud, credit and debit cards will begin using EMV technology instead.

What is EMV?

EMV is a credit/debit card technology also known as a chip-and-pin card. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, after the card companies that developed it. Instead of a magnetic stripe, the cards process transactions using a microprocessor chip.

Chip-enabled debit and credit cards are the global standard in fraud protection, and will eventually be in the hands of all U.S. cardholders.

How is EMV more secure than magnetic stripes?

The magnetic stripes on traditional credit and debit cards store unchanging data about your account. Whoever accesses that data gets all the information they need to make purchases. Since the stored information never changes, thieves can use that same data over and over again.

Unlike those cards, every time you use an EMV card, the chip creates a unique transaction code that can't be used again. If a hacker steals the information from one point of sale, the card duplication won't work. The stolen transaction information would not be usable again.

EMV technology will not prevent all data breaches, but it will make it much harder for criminals to profit from the stolen information.

Why am I hearing so much about this now?

Over the past few years, there have been many high-profile data breaches at retailers large and small across the country, costing consumers millions of dollars. These data thefts have made companies, financial institutions, consumers, and lawmakers more aware of the need for better card security.

Visa, Mastercard, and other card companies have responded to that need by encouraging card issuers to make the switch to EMV cards and retailers to accept those cards. One of the deadlines Visa and Mastercard has set goes into effect October 1, 2015.

Does this mean that I'll be getting all new cards all at once?

Not necessarily. The technology is complicated and expensive to switch all at once. Most companies will have their own schedules to update to the new technology.

How do I use my new EMV card once I do get it?

Just like your old cards, EMV cards are processed in two steps: card reading and transaction verification.

To use your EMV card, you'll no longer swipe the card through the reader. Instead you'll insert it into a slot and wait for it to process.

EMV cards can also support contactless card reading, known as near field communication. Instead of swiping or inserting your card, you would tap it against a scanner that can pick up the data from the chip.

To verify the transaction, you will either enter a PIN or sign for your purchase, just like with your old card. Whether you use a PIN or signature will depend on the card reader and your card issuer.

What if I need to use my new EMV card at a place that still uses swipe readers?

Your new EMV card will still have a magnetic stripe while everyone is getting used to this new technology.

When can I expect my new RVCCU card with an EMV chip?

If you have any RVCCU Visa Credit Card, your new EMV enabled card will be sent to you when your current card expires.

For debit cards, the transition for current card holders was made in March 2016. New checking accounts opened after that date receive the new EMV cards.


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